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Birdwatching in Siem Reap: An Essential Guide for Enthusiasts

Siem Reap, a region known for its ancient temples and rich cultural heritage, is also a significant hub for birdwatching in Cambodia. The diverse ecosystems in this area create habitats for many bird species, attracting bird enthusiasts from around the world. This guide will lead you through the best birdwatching locations in Siem Reap, introduce the unique bird species you might encounter, and describe the benefits of guided bike tours for a more adventurous approach to birdwatching.

Top Birdwatching Locations in Siem Reap

Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary

Prek Toal, a Ramsar site on Tonle Sap Lake, has large colonies of waterbirds. It is considered one of Southeast Asia’s most significant breeding grounds for endangered species, including the Greater Adjutant and the Milky Stork. Early morning boat tours are perfect for watching the nesting behavior of herons, cormorants, and pelicans. These tours let you observe the birds up close in their natural habitat.

Ang Trapaeng Thmor Sanctuary

Ang Trapaeng Thmor, once an irrigation project, is now a sanctuary for over 200 bird species. It is famous for hosting a large number of Sarus Cranes during their migration period. Birdwatchers often watch the cranes’ dramatic courtship dances, which involve synchronized movements and calls. You can also find the Eastern Imperial Eagle, Black-headed Ibis, and various other waterbirds here. This sanctuary’s mix of wetlands and grasslands offers diverse birdwatching experiences throughout the year.

Forests Around Angkor Wat

The forests surrounding Angkor Wat are steeped in history and are an excellent location for birdwatching. These ancient woods are home to the Great Hornbill, known for its large beak and bright feathers. You can also find several types of woodpeckers, including the Black-headed Woodpecker and the Common Flameback. During early morning or late afternoon walks through the forest, you might also spot the elusive Green Peafowl.

Tonle Sap Lake and Its Flooded Forests

Tonle Sap Lake has dynamic habitats for birds because the water levels change with the seasons. The flooded forests offer a unique environment for birdwatching. Raptors like the Grey-headed Fish Eagle and the Pallas’s Fish Eagle are commonly seen here. Guided boat tours through the flooded forests give you a chance to see these magnificent birds up close.

Phnom Krom Marshland

Phnom Krom Marshland, near Phnom Krom hill, has grasslands and marshes that attract a variety of birds. The Bronze-winged Jacana, Purple Swamphen, and several types of reed warblers are commonly seen here. The marshland changes with the wet season, bringing in more migratory birds looking for a safe place to rest.

Guided Bike Tours for Birdwatching

Guided bike tours offer a unique way to enjoy birdwatching in Siem Reap. These tours are eco-friendly and allow you to explore at your own pace. Bike tours often visit off-the-beaten-path locations, which are usually quieter and less disturbed by human activity.

Benefits of Bike Tours

Bike tours are more environmentally friendly than other modes of transportation. They offer a slower pace, which is better for birdwatching because it causes less disruption. Guides on these tours are knowledgeable about local birdlife, making it easier to find and identify birds. Bike tours are also flexible, letting you spend more time at the locations that interest you most.

Popular Bike Routes

Popular bike routes for birdwatching in Siem Reap include trails around the Angkor Wat complex and through rural villages. These routes offer a wide variety of birds, from forest dwellers to waterbirds. Bike tours to Ang Trapaeng Thmor Sanctuary are also popular, giving you a chance to explore wetlands and grasslands on two wheels. The pace of these tours is generally suitable for everyone, regardless of fitness level.

Tips for Birdwatching in Siem Reap

Best Times for Birdwatching

The best time for birdwatching in Siem Reap is from February to May, during the dry season when birds are easier to spot around water sources. However, birdwatching can be interesting year-round, with different migratory patterns bringing in new birds each season. Early mornings and late afternoons offer the best light and bird activity.

What to Bring for Birdwatching

When birdwatching in Siem Reap, high-quality binoculars are essential for clear, long-distance views. A camera with a powerful zoom lens is also helpful for capturing detailed images. It’s important to wear comfortable clothing, use sun protection, and carry insect repellent. For bike tours, ensure your equipment is in good condition, and carry water and snacks for longer rides.

Guided Tours and Conservation

Guided birdwatching tours can enhance your experience, providing expert insights into bird behaviors and helping you find elusive species. Remember to practice ethical birdwatching by keeping a safe distance from wildlife and following local conservation rules. Supporting eco-friendly tours and conservation efforts is crucial to preserve Siem Reap’s bird diversity.


Siem Reap’s diverse ecosystems and rich birdlife offer an unparalleled experience for birdwatchers. Whether you’re interested in observing the majestic Sarus Crane or seeking out the critically endangered Giant Ibis, this region has something for everyone. Guided bike tours provide an adventurous and eco-friendly way to explore the area, allowing birdwatchers to discover Cambodia’s avian treasures at their own pace. Siem Reap invites you to explore its remarkable birdlife and natural beauty, whether you’re a seasoned birder or just starting out.

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